Debate at the General Assembly in the upcoming session over a hate crimes bill will likely revolve around two words: gender identity.
Hate crimes bills of the last few sessions included the phrase "gender identity" on the list of protected characteristics. That drew the ire of religious conservative groups and largely helped lead to the bills’ defeat.
Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says he personally supports a bill that uses the definition of bias crime already in state law – one that doesn’t include gender identity. He says advocates should fight for transgender protections in the future.
“As society changes, so do their representatives,” Bosma says.
Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) says a hate crimes bill that passed the Senate only two years ago included gender identity.
“It wouldn’t be a deal breaker, I don’t believe, in the Senate to have it in there,” Messmer says.
Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce both say they'll push for a hate crimes bill in the 2019 session. But neither addressed the specific issue of gender identity.